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The Magical Spark of Elle McNicoll

By Melissa Lushington, "Don't Cut Corners...Unless Its Cake" - Blog Series Vol. 3, Slice #10

It’s not easy to find a movie or tv show that resonates with you as an individual, and neither is it

easy to find one that resonates with the community that you are part of. Literary books are no

different, there are several different works of literature that are problematic for the autism

community. According to an article written by The Guardian titled I have autism and the lack of

authentic autistic voices in books angers me, Sara Barrett who is a late diagnosed autistic

woman in her teens expressed that ever since she discovered her true neurological identity, she’s

felt a great deal of disappointment about the lack of positive representation for the

autism/neurodivergent community when she states, “Since being diagnosed with ASD (autism

spectrum disorder) a few years ago, I have found myself becoming more and more angry at the

books, movies and TV shows portraying autistic characters. One of the biggest culprits is Mark

Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” The Curious Incident of the Dog

in the Night-time is one of the most well-known autism novels in the neurodivergent community

and when Sara explained her thoughts about the novel she states, “It’s a beautifully told book

about a boy with special needs. The thing is that for someone like me, it’s really depressing. For

one thing, the book starts with the main character of the novel, Christopher, living with his

father, his mother has walked out on the family because she can’t deal with Christopher’s

disability. Can you imagine how hard it is for someone with autism to read? It feels like I’m basically being told that no one will ever love me because of my autism. Everything will fall

apart because of my autism. I will always be a problem BECAUSE I HAVE AUTISM.” As Sara

went on to give more bad examples of autistic characters in fiction, she did give at least two

examples of book series that portray autistic characters in a more hopeful way which are The

Night School series by CJ Daugherty and the Gone series by Michael Grant. Sara explains the

strengths of both series when she states, “Night School features Zoey, a character who constantly makes me cry because of how much the people around her not only accept her autism but often actually prefer her company because of it. Gone isn’t quite as good. Little Pete is a very extreme example of autism and is generally looked at as a freak by most of the characters. It is only the main characters that protect him and care for him. But they do protect him. And they do love him. Something that just seems so completely absent in autistic fiction.” Part of the problem with having a shortage of authentic representation of autistic characters in novels is that they are written by people who are either not autistic and didn’t do enough research on autism to write their books more accurately, or they’re written by someone who’s not associated with anyone who’s autistic either and therefore does not have an authentic perspective of what autism truly is to write for their novels. To write an authentic novel about autistic people and for autistic people, it takes thorough accurate research, it takes real-life authentic experiences, it takes a village of autistic voices to give their say on how they want the book to be done, and it takes… a kind of spark, which is what I was fortunate to find in neurodivergent Scottish Writer Elle McNicoll.

Promotional Photo for the novel "A Kind of Spark: Being different doesn't mean your voice doesn't count."/ Random House Children's Books

Promotional Photo for the novel "A Kind of Spark: Being different doesn't mean your voice doesn't count."/ Random House Children's Books

On Monday, September 20, 2021, I was watching a YouTube video from the channel

Annalisa Ely when I was introduced to Elle McNicoll and her first novel A Kind of Spark. The

story is about an autistic girl name Addie who’s introduced to the real-life historical event of the

European witch trials, which took place in her Scottish town. During the classroom discussion,

Addie learns that innocent women were accused, persecuted, and killed as a result of being

accused of something they weren’t which was witches. While everyone else is looking at this as

a typical class discussion, Addie is instantly drawn into the topic because she sees something

important that no one else sees- herself. Addie sees that innocent women were persecuted and

killed for being different from everyone else, and she resonates with that because every day she is bullied, misunderstood, and judged for being different from everyone else too. Because of this,

Addie has decided to campaign for a memorial in her hometown in honor of the innocent women

who wrongfully died during the European witch trials, and even though there were people who

tried to discourage her, Addie never gave them the satisfaction. When I first heard of the plot of

this book, I fell in love with it and after I finished reading the book, I loved it even more. Here

are my reasons why. The first reason why I love Elle McNicoll’s novel A Kind of Spark is

because of how the book resonates with autistic people historically as a community. As

mentioned previously, innocent women historically were labeled and accused as witches and

therefore were persecuted and killed due to them being different from society. In chapter 3 pages

20-21, the teacher Ms. Murphy explains the horrendous tortures that women experienced during

that time period when she states, “It is said that witches were dunked in the Nor’ Loch. Their

thumbs and toes were tied together, and they were tossed into the water! If they floated, they

were guilty of witchcraft. If they drowned, they were innocent. Guilty witches were removed

from the loch and taken to Castlehill to be burned or hanged.” While autistic people today are not labeled as witches, they are historically labeled as something just as equally harmful…puzzle

pieces. In an article titled Autism no puzzle, nothing wrong with us, Former Autistic Advisor

Paula Jessop explains that the origin story of the puzzle piece goes as far back as 1963. She

explained that as time went on, the puzzle piece was adopted in America and used as a symbol for autism by the infamous organization Autism Speaks. They used it in various big Autism

Awareness campaigns in America, and the problem for many autistic people is that the Autism

Speaks campaigns were negative and problematic for autistic people. Then Paula explains the

offensive and dangerous history that Autism Speaks had in expressing their offensive and

harmful views towards the autism community when she states, “Autism awareness campaigns

historically have been modeled on campaigns to raise awareness of diseases, illnesses like

cancer. Early autism awareness promotion was based on organizations' and parents’ beliefs that

autism is a disease. A tragic and terrible one. Autism Speaks was the biggest organization to

approach autism awareness from the perspective that autism is a disease requiring fixing, and curing. Therefore, their campaigns were the most hurtful, upsetting, and offensive to autistic people. In 2006, as part of Autism Speaks campaigning for Autism Awareness, the organization ran a range of advertisements on television and created a short film about autism that featured the organization’s leader at the time talking about her desire to kill herself and her autistic daughter, via driving off a bridge. She spoke of these urges in the film, while her daughter was in the room and could hear what she was saying. Autistic people continue to be horrified there was ever a time it was seemingly socially acceptable for people to discuss killing us while we listened. Another advertisement featured comments that autism ruined families and was almost a curse to families. Their campaigning held a lot of very negative ideas about autism, that autistic people found very offensive and unfair.” Since the puzzle piece is a symbol that reminds autistic people of a harmful organization that tried to publicly frame them as a tragic disease that needed to be cured, the puzzle piece is seen by the autism community as a negative representation of autism that we don’t associate with. So, this is one example of how the puzzle piece has been used as a harmful label towards the autism community. Another example is that the puzzle piece causes. autistic to be viewed by society as ‘puzzling’ or a ‘mystery’ as if we’re missing something or we’re difficult to figure out. Paula explains how this offends autistic people when she states, “For autistic people, this is problematic, as we don’t wish to be viewed as akin to a puzzle that can’t be worked out.” I find it beautifully creative that Elle McNicoll was able to use a historical event such as the European witch trials as a mirror image of how early Christians in Europe are a reflective mirror representation of Autism Speaks, the innocent victimized women are a reflective mirror representation of the neurodivergent community, and the label ‘witch’ is a reflective mirror representation of the label ‘puzzle piece’ to show how over the chasm of time, ableism, prejudice, stereotyping, and persecution still has a timeless nature in our society today.

Speaking of timeless nature, the second reason for why I love Elle McNicoll’s novel A Kind

of Spark is because of how strongly the plot of the story hits home to me. When I was a

Junior at Delaware Valley Charter High School in 2013, I signed up for an internship at the

Walnut Street Theater called Seeing the Stage Through Our Eyes. The internship was about

attending the final dress rehearsal of Broadway Productions, writing feature articles for each of

them, and the best two for each production would receive publication in the Philadelphia

Inquirer. I attended the Broadway Play Production of Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz

with my parents and brother on Sunday, January 12, 2014, and the day after, I emailed the

Associate Director of Development for the program Robert Weinstein to pitch to him my

proposal idea for my upcoming feature article. The email conversation started with me asking

Rob if he had ever heard of Sophocles' play Antigone, he said that he had and asked me if I

was thinking about writing an article comparing the two works. I responded to him with my

proposal statement saying, “Well I was playing with the idea of perhaps comparing the Antigone

family to the Wyeth family and how they both dealt with the grief of losing their brother/son. What do you think?” He then replied with an approval response stating, “I think that is a great and very creative idea! Go for it!” After spending a long period of time working on the article, and

waiting weeks to hear the results, Robert Weinstein finally emailed me with exciting news on

Tuesday, February 4, 2014, stating, “Congratulations! Your article has been selected for

publication in The Inquirer. I am not sure when it is going to be in the paper, but as soon as I find

out, I will let you know!” The article I wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer was called The Timeless Nature of Grief in Other Desert Cities and Antigone, and the main essence of the article

was explaining how the main female leads Brooke Wyeth and Antigone wanted to memorialize

their deceased brothers by having a burial and writing a memoir, and despite the disapproval they received from their peers, it didn’t stop them from wanting to pursue their mission of honoring the dead, even if that meant being disowned in the process.

In Elle McNicoll’s novel, Addie is the main female lead who wanted to memorialize the deceased victims of the European witch trials by having a plaque placed in their village, and despite the disapproval that she received from her peers, it didn’t stop her from wanting to pursue her mission of honoring the dead as well. Reading the plot of the story, was able to hit home for me personally because my 2014 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer was my very first experience of being published as a journalist. Then when I read A Kind of Spark for the first time, it felt like I was reading my published article all over again, but this time it was in the form of a novel and it’s about autism! As a Student Award-Winning Autistic Journalist, I am filled with joy to know that someone out there who doesn’t even know me, decided to think enough of me to recreate that magical moment of seeing the stage through her eyes. The third reason why I love Elle McNicoll’s novel A Kind of Spark, is because of how autism acceptance is beautifully advocated and presented through the power of sisterly love. Throughout the entire novel, Keedie, Nina, and Addie were nothing more than ‘ride or die’ for one another, and through their strong devotional

love for one another, they were able to showcase autism acceptance and their acceptance of Addie and Keddie’s autism as well as advocate/fight for each other whenever one of them felt

oppressed by the world around them. One example is from chapter 2 pages 8-10. When Keedie

makes her first appearance, Addie can recognize her right away when she states, “Then I hear it.

The gentle tap on the large kitchen window. I bolt out of my seat to fling it open before Dad or

Nina even notices. I could hear her knuckles graze the glass before the knock even happened. Keedie is here.” Then Addie describes Keedie to be a warm, welcoming, and accepting haven by

simply describing the way they both greeted one another when she states, “She clambers into the kitchen, ducking through the window. She’s always done this. She knows I love it. I hug her.

She’s the only person I ever hug. She never grips me too tightly; she never tenses. She doesn’t

wear strong perfume that stings my nose, just a mild soap that smells like home. “Hello, my

favorite person.” Her voice is all one color, a beautiful molten gold. I smile against her ribs. She

asks me no questions. She lets go when I do.” This first moment of sisterly love is a beautiful

poetic one because it shows how much Keedie is loving and accepting of who Addie is as an

autistic individual. Knowing Addie’s sensory needs, Keedie is willing to accommodate herself in

a way that makes Addie feel safe and comfortable so that she will feel included in her life. The

fact that Addie smiles during their warm embrace verify that Addie not only feels safe and

comfortable with Keedie, but she also trusts Keedie to make her feel safe and comfortable so that she can remain included in her life. Acceptance and inclusion are first recognized in the novel, through something as simple as a hug and warm welcome, and the fact that Keedie is autistic herself makes this moment even more special because aside from acceptance and inclusion, this was also a moment of empathy too. Another example would be on page 11, we see Keedie and Addie go for a walk by the Water of Leith after dinner. While they’re walking through the field of sensory pleasure with the leaves, Addie tells Keedie how her teacher Ms. Murphy mistreated her by yelling at her over her bad handwriting. Keedie tells that her teacher shouldn’t have done that, and when Addie explains to Keedie that Ms. Murphy didn’t read her work because she couldn’t read it, Keedie made her feel better by explaining to her that her bad handwriting skills are due to her motor skills. She explains how that is when she states, “Our brain sends messages to our hands. It tells them what to do.” She continues saying, “When you’re…different, your processing is a little unique. The hands have a bit of trouble doing exactly what the brain wants. They’re so busy getting the words exactly right, and in the right order, that they don’t have time to get the writing perfect or pretty.” I love how at this moment, Keedie was able to make Addie feel better by explaining that having bad handwriting is nothing to be ashamed of because it’s just part of who she is as an autistic person, and when Keedie told Addie that her handwriting is bad as well, it not only displayed another example of her accepting Addie as an autistic

individual, but she was also able to help Addie feel like she’s not alone either and that is an

amazing thing to have not only between siblings but especially between neurodivergent siblings.

Now Addie’s relationship with her other sister Nina is different from her relationship with

Keedie and one of the reasons are that Nina is not autistic-like Keedie and Addie are. Having

two different brains can often make it hard for two people to understand each other and that was

certainly the case with Addie and Nina. In chapter 2 page 9, Addie explains how complicated her

relationship with Nina can be at times when she states, “I don’t understand Nina. She wants

things out of our conversations that I don’t know how to give. She talks to the people who watch

her videos as she loves them. I watch her sometimes. When I was doing my Saturday therapy,

the man would place photographs in front of me, photographs of different people wearing

different faces. Expressions, he would correct me. But they were different faces. He would ask

me to tell him what they were feeling, but I never knew how. How to tell, how to know what was

really going on. But I practiced and got better. I watched Nina. She would look into her camera

and smile so widely. She was happy; she loved the people she was speaking to. But they were,

are, just strangers. Faces she cannot even see. I’m her sister. Yet she looks at me with a face I cannot read. I never know what Nina wants.” Even though it’s hard to understand each other at

times, Addie is still accepted by Nina for who she is as an autistic individual and does try to

include her in her life. In chapter 4, Nina surprises Addie by asking her to be in one of her videos

and even though Addie is not interested in makeup (and feels sensory uncomfortable when it

comes to makeup), she doesn’t say no to the opportunity to spend time with her sister. You know

what Addie also wouldn’t say no to, advocating/fighting for her sisters, especially when it comes

to life-threatening situations. In chapter 5 page 37 for example, Addie remembers a life-threatening situation that she experienced with Nina and Keedie when they were kids. The experience involved a woman name Mrs. Craig, who was babysitting them at the time. During

dinnertime, Keedie was having a meltdown and Mrs. Craig was on top pinning her to the ground.

When Nina told Mrs. Craig to stop, she didn’t listen to her, and Keddie was crying and

screaming on the ground in horror. Then Addie found the courage to spring into action to fight

and save her sister when Addie states, “I flew at her. My whole body hit her back with the force

of a train, and I sank my teeth into her fleshy shoulder. She yelped and screeched, letting go of

Keedie to try to break free from my bite. Keedie’s whole body was convulsing with sobs.” As

traumatic and scary as the situation was, Addie has no regrets about what she did for her sister

and if given the opportunity, she would do it again when she states, “I know that if anyone tried

to hurt Keedie, even now, I would probably still try to bite them.” Fortunately for Addie, Keedie and Nina feel the same way about her. Another example would be in chapter 6 pages 45-46,

where Keedie advocates and fights for Addie when confronting Nina about the online video that

she made with Addie. This is a very important thing to mention because there are plenty of

people who are against the idea of parents putting their kid’s privacy on the internet and forcing

them to become child stars anyway, especially with the drama that unfolded in 2020 where

former YouTuber Myka Stauffer re-homed her nonverbal Chinese autistic son Huxley, many

people are against the idea of family vlogging channels on social media because of the many

problematic issues that come with it such as cyberbullying and online predators, so you can only

imagine how upset Keedie was when she found out that Nina made an online video of herself

doing Addie’s makeup, and she expressed that feeling with a passion to Nina when she states, “You exposed her to monsters, Nina.” Nina tried to explain her actions to make the situation not

look as bad by saying that she disabled the comments from the video, but that’s not enough for

Keedie as she continues to advocate for Addie’s well-being by continuing to confront Nina by

accusing her of using Addie as a tool for inspiration porn when she states, “Thought you’d show

off your troubled little sister. Thought you would get internet brownie points for daring to be

nice to a disabled child.” Nina then says that Addie is not just Keedie’s sister, but she’s also her

sister too. Then Keedie fights back with her powerful statement by saying, “It’s not a

competition! She’s a person, not a prop. She’s vulnerable, and you put her on the internet for all

the dregs of humanity to point and stare at.” Nina defends herself by saying that Addie’s functioning, and that it’s a perfectly appropriate medical term. She said that she thought people

would like to see that. She even said that Addie has a mild form of autism just like she does, and

Keedie responds to this insensitive offensive comment when she states, “It’s mild to you! It’s

mild to you and every other heartless soul in this village, Nina; it’s not mild to me. It’s not mild to Addie! It’s mild to you because we make it so, at a great personal cost!” Keedie then uses

Addie as an example of the cost autistic people go through to be people pleasers when she states, “she is so uncomfortable in that video. If you actually knew her, you would have seen that. She only did it to please you.” After a moment of silence, Nina repeats again that she deleted the

comments and asks Keedie to leave it alone, and Keedie finally ends the conversation when she

states, “You owe her an apology.” Many people who look at this conversation between Keedie

and Nina, can easily debate amongst themselves in terms of who’s in the right here because it is

one of those important conversations that is debated with people in terms of whether family

vlogging channels should exist in the first place. In an article titled, EXPLOITING AUTISTIC

CHILDREN ONLINE IS NOT “CUTE” OR “FAMILY FRIENDLY.”, Author and Educational Assistant Cassandra Crosman who is autistic herself, expressed her grievances about

how autistic children are being used and exploited as clickbait cash cows for money and internet

fame when she states, “Autistic children are too regularly exploited, and are victims of abuse and

neglect. To make this issue worse, this often goes unseen when the vlogs doing the exploitation

are depicted as “family friendly” or “inspirational” as many of them are.” In this case, many

people would take Keedie’s side and say that Nina did a terrible thing using Addie for clickbait

views at the expense of Addie’s well-being by forcing her to be uncomfortable just so she can

make a good video for her channel, but I personally think that if anything Nina’s actions were

misguided. Knowing that she would be putting makeup on Addie, she could have told Addie that

if she were to ever feel uncomfortable at all during the video to just let her know and she would

stop the whole thing immediately, but it’s not her fault that she didn’t think this way, she’s only

human. She didn’t mean any harm, she just wanted to make a simple video educating people

about autism and the same thing goes for autism family vlogging YouTube channels. They don’t mean any harm, and they would never do anything to cause harm either especially to their own

children. They just want to educate the world about autism, and therefore I don’t have a problem

with family channels that spread autism acceptance and raise autism awareness about the

struggles autistic people go through in their daily lives. After all, if we’re going to be brutally

honest, some people are just lazy when it comes to doing research about anything. Some people

wouldn’t take time to spend ten minutes reading a book, or one hour doing research on Google,

but they can spend twenty-four hours or more on YouTube or other social media platforms

looking at videos. Also, even if people do their research on Google or through books, the

information they receive can be inaccurate and harmful to the autism community, especially

when that information is coming from harmful organizations such as Autism Speaks. Therefore,

with family vlogging channels they can give accurate information about what autism is, and since some people are visual learners, they can see for themselves what autism truly is through

the authenticity of a family going through everyday life together. Anyway, this was a beautiful

moment from Keedie advocating for her sister Addie because it shows that Keedie sees Addie as

a human being and loves her enough to make sure that everyone including Nina sees her as that

as well. There’s also another beautiful moment with Addie and Keedie in chapter 9 page 81,

where Keedie finds out that Addie told Audrey about her friend Bonnie and how she ended up at a facility. It was obviously personal information that neither Keedie nor Nina would just blurt out

randomly to anyone, but Addie never thought of that at the moment. I was happy to see that Keedie wasn’t mad at Addie for telling Audrey her personal information, but I was also happier

to see the conversation that took place between them about Bonnie and the facility. Keedie asks

Addie if she knows why Bonnie was taken away, and Addie confirms her understanding by

saying that it was because she couldn’t mask anymore. Then Keedie tells Addie about how the

people at the facility didn’t treat Bonnie well, and that they didn’t want to help her. That’s when

Addie tells Keedie that Bonnie’s story is the reason why her memorial for the European witch

trial victims is so important because everyone looks at this as just a story, but it’s not…it

happened in real life. Keedie and Addie then talk about autistic masking, and how hard it is to

have to mask all the time. Then when Addie tells Keedie about her fears of being taken away to a

facility, Keedie responds without looking into her eyes saying, “Listen, I will never let that happen. They’d have to get through me, Addie, and they never will. That will never happen.”

This is my second favorite moment in the novel, because this shows that Keedie will not only

advocate for Addie, but she will also fight to protect and save her just like how Addie fought to

protect and save Keddie from Mrs. Craig years ago. The institution system and the

neurodivergent community, are not a perfect match made in heaven. If you do your research, and

learn about the #StoptheShock movement, you will see that institutional centers don’t have a

healthy positive reputation when it comes to autistic people as well as disabled people.

Remember when I mentioned earlier about Keedie going through a meltdown during dinnertime

when she was younger, and Mrs. Craig who was babysitting her and her sisters at the time was

on top of her restraining her, Keedie was fortunate enough to have Addie save Keedie from that

horrible experience otherwise who knows what would have happened if she didn’t. Now,

imagine the same scenario but in an institutional center, where one of the staff members is on top of you, restraining you because you’re having a meltdown, and no one is there to save you from it. That is what makes this advocating moment such a beautiful one because Keedie understands that being in an institution, where you lose all free will and control of yourself, and your life can be a scary and traumatizing experience for an autistic person to go through, especially when you go through it alone and don’t have anyone to save and protect you. That moment when Keedie was being pinned down and restrained by Mrs. Craig during her meltdown, is just a tiny fraction of what neurodivergent people go through when being institutionalized in a facility. Keedie couldn’t save Bonnie (who was probably like another sister to her), but she will fight the system with her life just to protect her little sister from not only losing her life, but also losing her spirit, her spark, and her sense of individuality. As you can already tell, this novel written by Elle McNicoll has so many beautiful moments of autism acceptance and advocacy through the bond of sisterly love. However, out of all moments in the novel, this is my favorite one. In chapter 16 page 140, where Addie and Ms. Murphy sit in a small dark office, and Keedie, Nina, Mr. Allison, and even Audrey are there to confront the situation where Addie’s bully Emily destroyed her dictionary and wrote an offensive word on the inside. Now, this was obviously the hardest chapter for me to read through next to the previous chapter, where Emily destroyed her book. The obvious reason is that this is ableism at its highest for Ms. Murphy, but another sad

thing worth mentioning is seeing Addie have an internal war with herself about whether the

comments from Ms. Murphy are true. We see Addie processing everything Ms. Murphy is

saying to her and at first, it looks like Addie was starting to believe it, but thankfully she was able

to snap out of it when she states, “I feel flush. I was never trying to be a demon. But

doubt floods me. Maybe I was? Maybe I was giving Ms. Murphy a really hard time without

realizing it. I shake the thought out of my head. I feel like Maggie. Being told over and over that

I am one thing when I know it can’t be true. But if Ms. Murphy keeps saying it, I might start to

really believe it.” The scariest thing about negative words is that they can and will have power if

you give it to them by giving in to what they are telling you. It’s a seductive spell that anyone

can fall into, especially when you are someone who’s spent your whole life not understanding

why you are the way you are, yet you’ve been told consistently that you’re a bad child, or spoiled, or lazy, and you slowly get seduced into believing it because sometimes you don’t know

any better explanation. So, seeing Ms. Murphy’s ableism and Addie’s internal war was hard to

sit through and read, but this novel is not just about letting your voice be heard, it’s about letting

social issues that involve the neurodivergent community be heard because in order to finally put

an end to a problem, you must let people be aware that the problem exists. There are some

people who have spent their whole lives in silence because they were afraid to stand up to those

who oppressed them, but once enough time went by, they found their voice and their courage so

they can finally push and fight back. This leads me to the part of the chapter that has my most

favorite moment of all, where Keedie advocates for Addie by standing up to Ms. Murphy. It starts off with Keedie checking on Addie to find out what happened, and Ms. Murphy gives her

explanation when she states, “Nothing went wrong; your sister is wrong, I’ve had difficulties

with her since day one. She shouldn’t be in my class. She shouldn’t be in this school. She clearly

needs someone who is used to handling children like her. Violent children. She isn’t right for a

regular school.” After hearing this, Keedie snaps into defense mode when she states, “I seem to

remember you making up things about me too.” Then Ms. Murphy makes a statement saying that

she has a zero tolerance for bullying in her class, and Keedie makes a comeback statement that

makes Ms. Murphy look like a hypocrite when she states, “Oh yeah? What if it’s the teacher

doing the bullying?” Ms. Murphy starts to look uncomfortable and nervous, and Keedie notices

this and makes a comment about it when she states, “You look…nervous, miss. Almost afraid.

What’s the matter? Am I too big now?” she continues saying, “I guess I’m not as easy to bully

anymore, am I? Not an easy target now. But lucky for you, you’ve got my little sister. And she’s

too young to know that you’re a disgraceful, ignorant, ableist coward!” Ms. Murphy responds in

disgust saying that Keedie is the same person that she was years ago, and that she’s still as disrespectful to her as she was before. Keedie responds by saying that she is still the same person she was before but for a good reason when she states, “You’re right: I have zero respect for you, and I know that even if Addie did something wrong today, you’re the one who’s been doing something wrong since day one. Because I know you, miss. I remember you vividly. And I know now what I didn’t know at eleven. That you have no business being anywhere near children, let alone autistic children.” Afterward, Mr. Allison entered the room with Addie’s destroyed

dictionary and stated that Addie was provoked into beating up Emily. When he showed Keedie

the offensive word that was written in her book, Addie tried to stop Keedie from seeing it. When

Keedie saw it, she lashed out at Ms. Murphy in outrage when she states, “You left this part out

of your story.” Ms. Murphy tries to defend herself by saying that this does not excuse violence, and that she will not tolerate violence in her classroom. Then Keedie ends her conversation with

Ms. Murphy by explaining to her what real violence is when she states, “This is violence. This is

a different kind of. It’s obviously caused her to meltdown.” I love this exchange between Keedie

and Ms. Murphy so much because in this moment, it wasn’t just Keedie advocating for Addie, it

was Keedie advocating for herself in which she wasn’t able to do so when she was a child, but

she was finally able to do so as an adult and Addie helped her do that. Addie was able to help

Keedie find her voice and courage to stand up to Ms. Murphy, by simply existing in her life.

Having Addie around influenced Keedie to not only love and accept who she is as an autistic

person, but in this moment where Addie sees Keedie fiercely stand up to Ms. Murphy, Addie

was able to see for herself how to stand up to those who oppress you and she was also able to

learn how important it is to do so as well. Loving Addie as her little sister gave Keedie the

strength to stand up to her sister’s bully because even when she’s not able to advocate for herself

at her university college, she’s able to at least use Addie as her strength to stand up for her

because she doesn’t want her to experience the same traumatic experiences she did growing up.

Therefore, in Addie and Keedie’s relationship, they can learn how to love and accept themselves

as they are and when it is necessary, they advocate and fight for one another as well. I’ve talked

a lot about Keedie’s character in this blog so far, (I’m sorry for not talking more about Addie’s

relationship with Nina as well as Nina’s character, but I want to save that for a future blog about

a different topic.) and the reason why is because it’s one thing to give Addie positive recognition

for the amazing work she’s contributed to the story, but I believe that Keedie’s role in the story is

just as admirable to the point where it’s worth idolizing. That brings me to the next point of the

book that I want to talk about which is, the fourth reason why I love Elle McNicoll’s novel A

Kind of Spark, is because of the idolization of a neurodivergent character. I don’t often read novels about autism, but I do know that in many autism stories the neurotypical is seen as the

hero of a neurodivergent character. This paints a type of savior image, where the autistic

individual is seen as a helpless damsel and the neurotypical allistic individual is seen as the hero

who saves the day. Even in this story, that concept is addressed when Nina puts Addie in her

video and Keedie confronts her about it by accusing her of using Addie to make herself look

good for her audience. However, in this story a neurodivergent character is for once seen as the

hero for another neurodivergent character, and not in a way that makes the one of them look like

a helpless victim that needs saving, it’s done in a way where both neurodivergent characters are

seen as equals and one of them is able to learn how to be a stronger individual that’s true to

herself while living in a world that constantly wants her to change. Back in chapter 5 page 38, we

see Addie idolize Keedie in a way that makes her look like a symbolism of strength and

perseverance. She no longer sees Keedie as the same victim she was with Mrs. Craig, but rather

instead as someone who’s confident and sure of herself when she states, “Now I look up at my sister. She is beautiful. Her hair is long and magical-looking, the autumn sun showing off the

golden-blond streaks. She is my reliable older sister. I can’t connect that trembling child to this

confident person.” When the story continued, Addie noticed that Keedie wasn’t acting like

herself and when Addie asked Keedie what was wrong, Keedie shrugged it off and told Addie

not to worry about it. Finally, in chapter 18, Addie got to finally see the human side of Keedie

when she had found her curled up in the corner in the bathroom as a result of experiencing

autistic burnout. Once Keedie was able to be more responsive, she explained to Addie that the

constant masking at school caused her to experience burnout to the point where she was at her

breaking point. Then she explained to Addie how she was different from her when she was her

age, and that when she was born, she finally had someone who could understand her when she

states, “I wasn’t like you at your age. I wasn’t a tree. I was a leaf. I was angry and scared and no

one could tell me why I was the way I was. And then, when you were born, I soon realized we

were the same. Or at least similar. And that was great.” Then she reveals her self-awareness of

knowing how much Addie looked up to her, and she explained how much that idolization took a

toll on her when she states, “But the more you came to look up to me, the harder it was to talk

about the bad days. The difficult days.” She continues saying, “I was just so afraid of scaring

you. Or letting you down.” Having found out all this new information about Keedie, Addie

explains how she sees Keedie in a new light when she states, “I try to understand. Keedie always

seemed perfect to me. Always knew what to say, what to do, was always able to answer

questions. I didn’t know that it had come at a price.” These moments right here on page 155,

demonstrate that autistic people are not superheroes, and our autism doesn’t mean we have

superpowers. We’re just people who are born neurologically different from everyone else, and

we struggle as well as have difficult days just like everyone else. Still, I loved the fact that Addie was able to see a hero in her sister Keedie, I loved that Keedie was able to see a hero in her sister

Addie, I loved that two autistic individuals could see a hero in each other, and I loved that an

autistic person was idolized as a hero at all. It breaks the typical norms of portraying

neurodivergent people as a broken tragedy that you need to feel sorry for, and it creates a freshly

new portrayal of neurodivergent people as strong yet still human individuals, and I believe more

novels about neurodivergent people need to be just like that. The fifth reason why I love Elle

McNicoll’s novel A Kind of Spark, is because of the remarkable friendship story between

Addie and Audrey. The character Jenna is not a big major character, but she still plays an

important role in Addie’s story. The reason why is because before Audrey entered Addie’s life,

Jenna was her best friend, and they were friends since nursery school. Then one day Addie and

Jenna grew apart, and Jenna became Emily’s best friend instead. It’s typical for friendships to

grow apart overtime, but it’s especially common in the autism community as well because

autistic people have a tendency of not being able to keep up and maintain friendships. When

Jenna first makes her appearance in chapter 3 page 16, Addie calls out to her saying hello, but

Jenna doesn’t respond. Then when Addie tries to ask Jenna to have lunch with her, Emily is with

her to speak bitterly on her behalf when she states, “She doesn’t want to have lunch with you,

Addie. No one does.” That’s when Audrey makes her debut and stands up for Addie against

Emily when she states, “I do.” What makes this friendship so remarkable, is that Emily herself is

a remarkable individual. She sets herself apart from Jenna by not just being the new kid at

school but also representing a new frame of a mindset of curiosity, open-mindedness, acceptance, and inclusion. It starts on pages 23-24 when Addie is in the library looking up information on the witch trials. Then Audrey puts her lunch box next to hers and asks out of curiosity if she’s looking up information on the witch trials. When Addie replies by saying that she is, Audrey then apologizes to her about how people were treating her in the classroom. Addie brushes off the apology by saying that people say things like that to her all the time. Then when Addie goes back to doing her research, Audrey makes a friendly offer when she states, “Can I help you research?” At this point, Addie looks up at Audrey and her brain is too frantic to properly at the moment, but she sees that Audrey means well and kindly accepts her offer when she states, “Okay”. I want you to know that in this scene, Addie was not trying to be rude to Audrey, she was just thrown off guard because people don’t usually take an interest in what she likes as

special interests, but rather judge and make fun of her for it. So when Audrey shows up and

offers to join her in her research, it’s strange but refreshing because Addie is not used to having

people take an interest in her special interests, but is appreciative enough to accept it. Another big moment similar to this happen in chapter 6 pages 43-44, where Audrey asks Addie,

“So…what’s wrong with you?” She asks this question because she found Nina’s video online,

and saw how uncomfortable Addie was when she was getting her makeup done. When she’s able

to build up her courage, Addie finally comes out to Audrey when she states, “I’m autistic,” Then

Audrey asks Addie what that is, in which Addie explains when she states, “It’s a neurological

condition. Meaning, it’s a difference in the brain. It’s a spectrum. Some people have it and don’t

speak at all. And some people have it and talk a lot.” Then when Audrey asks Addie about what

autism does to her, Addie explains it when she states, “I…feel things a bit more. Sounds, sights. I

can hear people down the street without straining. I can see tiny details in things. Things other

people can’t. I process things differently. And sometimes, it’s really difficult for me to read

people’s faces. If they’re not being honest with their faces, I sometimes don’t understand.”

Audrey is able to understand this and doesn’t ask anything more about it, but the experience was

so refreshingly pleasant that it left Addie in awe as she realized that this is not only the first time that someone has taken an interest in something that she enjoys doing, but this is the first time

that someone has taken an interest in knowing her as a person, which is something that her

former friend Jenna never did for Addie. Addie has this moment of realization about Jenna when

she states, “It isn’t until I reach home that I realize Jenna never wanted to know about being

autistic.” Throughout the novel, Addie continues to be surprised by Audrey as she continues to

show an interest in her and her special interest. Also, Addie will throughout the novel continue to see the polarizing difference between the friendship she has with Audrey and the friendship she once had with Jenna. For example, in chapter 8 page 70, Audrey asks Addie what happened to her during the school trip, and Addie explained to Audrey that she was on the verge of having a

shutdown, but due to not being able to stim publicly due to masking she went into panic mode. Then Audrey asks Addie if she’s still campaigning for the memorial, in which Addie confirms

that she is. Then when Audrey offered to help by making flyers, Addie looked up surprised and

replied excitedly when she states, “Yes! That would be great.” Another example is in chapter 11

page 94, when Addie and Audrey are almost late to school. At this point, Addie is enjoying

Audrey’s company more and she wants to spend time with her just as much as she does with

animals when she states, “Animals are almost always preferable to people, although I like

Audrey more and more with each day. She has some good jokes and is great at doing

impressions of the teachers and people from television.” Then when they see Jenna and Emily

whispering and laughing together, Audrey makes a comment that puts things into perspective

when she states, “They have so little in their lives,”. Addie takes this into consideration and

realizes that Audrey has a point when she states, “She is right. When I’m with Audrey, we’re too

busy having fun to be mean to other people.” After this, Jenna asks Addie to meet with her in the

bathroom to talk, which turns out to be a trap as Emily pops up out of nowhere and bullies Addie by accusing her of laughing at her and Jenna. Then Audrey shows up behind Addie to defend her

and stands up to Emily when she states, “We weren’t laughing at you.” This gives Addie courage

to stand up to Emily too, as she tells her that if she doesn’t like people laughing at her, then

maybe she shouldn’t be laughing at others either and to have some empathy. Afterwards, Addie

and Audrey become more closer by confiding in one other about their personal lives. Audrey

tells Addie about life in London, and Addie tells Audrey about Keedie’s friend Bonnie. Another

example would be in chapter 13 page 107, when Addie goes to Audrey’s house to work on their

campaign. Having remembered the incident that took place on the field trip, Audrey tells Addie,

“We’ll go the long way around so you don’t have to see that horrible tree.” This is shows once

again how much Audrey takes an interest in Addie as a person and Addie is once again surprised

by this when she states, “I’m surprised by her consideration. People don’t normally think about

how to make things less difficult for me.” Another example takes place in chapter 14 page 119,

where Addie leaves the library and goes to Ms. Murphy’s room. There she sees Jenna waiting by the coats and looking at her shoes, and Addie walks right up to her to finally confront her about

their broken up friendship when she states, “Why did you stop being my friend?” unable to make

eye contact, Jenna gives a quiet response and states, “I just like Emily a lot, and she says I can’t

be friends with both of you.” Addie replies and asks, “So you do what she says?” Jenna gives a

revealing response back that expresses what her friendship was like with Addie when she states,

“She has lots of cool stuff at her house, she lends me things, and we’re into the same junk. I

don’t like sharks or books or the things you like.” Then Addie gives a revealing response that

expresses what her friendship to Jenna meant to her when she states, “I don’t like hair clips or

nail polish. But I liked being your friend. So it didn’t matter.” Jenna doesn’t respond or make eye

contact with her, so Addie leaves to go to class. This is the first major dialogue that we see between Addie and Jenna, where Addie receives confirmation of what she’s already realized

before with how different her current friendship is with Audrey from her old friendship with

Jenna. Addie knows that her interests are different from Audrey’s such as her liking dolphins

while she likes sharks, but at least Audrey is willing to be curious, open-minded, accepting, and

inclusive enough to have an interest in doing what Addie likes doing and supporting her in her

greatest passion of the witch trial campaign. Whereas Jenna did not have that open mindset to

accept and engage in Addie’s special interests, but rather instead become friends with someone

who not only likes the same things she likes but has proven to be a very toxic friend in their

relationship since her new best friend Emily is the dominant partner who makes all the decisions, and Jenna just goes along with it without giving it a second thought or opinion. Addie learns this realization, even more, when Emily destroys Addie’s dictionary in chapter 15 and while Jenna is a bystander doing nothing, Audrey is the one who stands up for Addie and even advocates for herby explaining to Ms. Murphy that it was Emily’s fault for causing Addie’s meltdown. Then in chapter 19 page 156, Keedie tells Addie how important it is to find people who allow you to be who you are and accept you just the way you are, and they both agreed that it needs to be people like Audrey when Addie states, “I know she’s right. It’s been so much easier with Audrey than it ever was with Jenna. Jenna would always be so disappointed or disgusted when I was relaxed and myself; I was constantly masking, adapting, and hiding. And I don’t want to hide anymore.”Finally, in chapter 19 pages 159-161, Addie has one last interaction with Jenna in a field full of cows. Jenna and Addie start the conversation about the witch trial victims and Addie’s speech. Then Jenna transitions to the most important part of the conversation, which was the incident that happened between Addie and Emily with Addie’s dictionary. Jenna expresses her guilt and remorse for the whole thing when he states, “Addie…I feel bad about what happened.” Addie replies saying that she feels the same way, and Jenna moves closer saying that it wasn’t very nice. Addie then explains that she doesn’t care about nice, and that she doesn’t care about what people think about her anymore. Then in an act of desperation, Jenna tries to explain what happened the other day when she states, “I didn’t know she was going to write that, I swear. Promise. She said she was going to write something, but I didn’t know it would be that.” Addie jumps on her feet and responds to Jenna sharply saying, “I don’t care, Jenna. If someone tried to take something that meant something to you, I would’ve stopped them. If they had called you a name, I would have told them to shut up. That’s what friends do. That’s what good people do.You just stood there.” Jenna tries to defend her actions by saying that no one knew what to do in the situation, and Addie pushes back when she states, “Audrey did. Mr. Allison did.” Then Jenna makes an attack against Audrey when she states, “Audrey. She’s weird, Addie. She doesn’t look like us; she doesn’t sound like us.” Then Addie makes a final sharp comment towards Jenna when she states, “I don’t need my friends to look like me, I don’t need them to sound like me. I don’t need them to like everything I like. I don’t even need them to think like me. But I do need them to stand up for me when someone writes a horrible word on my present from my sister.”Afterward, Addie walks past Jenna, jumps over the fence, and doesn’t look back. This last conversation between Addie and Jenna is the most important conversation that Addie has with Jenna because this was the final piece that Addie had for personal healing. The reason why I say this is because many people who go through the ending of a friendship or romantic relationship, often times don’t know or understand why it ended in the first place. This can sometimes cause them to have a great deal of unsettlement due to personal issues being unresolved, and an inability to let go of someone and move on from a relationship or friendship. Sometimes, it takes the interference of another individual for someone to not only get the answers they’re looking for, but to also finally be able to let go and move on and heal. In this case. Addie was in a state of unsettlement because she didn’t know or understand why her friendship with Jenna ended, she had personal issues with Jenna that were unresolved, and this caused her to have the inability to let go of Jenna and move on from her. It wasn’t until Audrey came along, that all of it changed. Through Audrey accepting Addie the way she is and supporting her in her special interests, Addie was able to realize that she was never truly accepted at all by Jenna and therefore got the answers she was looking for. When Addie finally got to confront her feelings for Jenna in the field, she was able to finally resolve her personal issues and got the personal healing she needed in order to move on from Jenna. Elle McNicoll was able to use this friendship between Addie and Audrey as not only a learning experience of acceptance and inclusion of others, but it was also a learning experience on how to accept the harsh reality of one friendship and include the true beauty of another. Learning this, means being able to realize the lack of self-love that was there in one relationship, and how that causes a person to tolerate the toxic nature of dominance and control that one person had over another. You know what? I don’t know if Elle McNicoll intended on doing this, but the relationships that Addie had with Jenna and Audrey, are parallel to the relationships that she has with Nina and Keedie. The reason why is that similar to how Jenna never took an interest in things that Addie enjoys doing, Nina never took an interest in things that Addie enjoyed doing as well. Similar to how Addie had to adapt and mask in order to spend time with Jenna, Addie had to also adapt and mask in order to spend time with Nina. Similar to how Jenna was the dominant person in control that made Addie a people pleaser to her, Nina was also the dominant person (unintentionally) in control that made Addie a people pleaser to her as well. Similar to how Audrey accepts Addie for who she is and supported her special interests, Keedie accepts Addie for who she is and supports her special interests as well. Similar to how Audrey stood up to Jenna and Emily when Addie was being bullied, Keedie stood up to Nina when she made that video of doing Addie’s makeup. The difference is that Nina learned from her mistakes and learned to be a better sister to Addie, but Jenna never learned how to be a better friend. These parallel similarities in these interpersonal relationships paint a much bigger picture of how they created a mirror for Addie to see herself in and realize how people pleasing and conforming to the needs of others caused her to suffer a great deal of self-abuse due to the toxic nature that two of her relationships (Nina and Jenna) had, while at the same time learning to heal her wounds through self-love by putting her needs first and being true to herself due to the healthy nature that her other two relationships (Keedie and Audrey) had. Therefore, I love Audrey’s contribution to the story in not only being a good friend to Addie, but also in helping Addie get closure from her friendship breakup with Jenna, becoming a mirror, and helping Addie realize the truth about Jenna not being a real friend to her, and ultimately teaching Addie the importance of self-love by putting your needs first and being your true self through simply being curious, being open-minded, being accepting, and being inclusive of Addie’s special interests as well as who she is as a person. The sixth reason why I love Elle McNicoll’s novel A Kind of Spark is because of how the novel validates my self-diagnosis as an autistic person. Self-diagnosis is a divisive topic. It’s split down the middle in terms of how people should view self-diagnosis as a whole. I won’t go into too much detail about it (that will be for a future blog post), but to sum up my beliefs in a nutshell I believe that self-diagnosis is valid because even if you can’t remember every detail, of your life experiences are valid, your feelings about them are valid, and the way that you can relate your experiences with other people is valid. Reading Elle McNicoll’s novel and seeing Addie’s journey throughout the book, allowed me to relate to Addie in certain ways that make my self-diagnosis for autism valid. For example, in the earlier chapters such as chapters 1 and 11 Addie talks about how her teacher Ms.

Murphy mistreated her because of her bad handwriting in school. I relate to this because my

whole life, I’ve always had bad handwriting, and teachers, students, and my mom have

complained to me about it. Some people have asked me why I write the way that I do, and like

many other things, I just didn’t know why. Other people that have looked at my handwriting,

thought that it was my way of doing cursive handwriting. But after reading Keedie’s explanation

to Addie, I feel better about myself knowing that my bad handwriting is based on my

neurological nature of being autistic. When I’m writing on paper, I try so hard to make sure that I

remember everything that I want to say that I don’t think about how well my handwriting looks.

If I spend too much time trying to write neatly, then I’ll forget some of the things I want to say

because my autistic brain deals with executive dysfunction, where I deal with forgetfulness at

times. Therefore, my handwriting is often sloppy and hard to read at times. Another example, would be on chapter 6 page 46, when Addie tells Keedie that she wishes she were a normal

person like everyone else, and Keedie makes Addie feel better by telling her that neurotypical

people have narrow minds and that her mind is enormous, but she also tells Addie that she has a

creative mind as well when she states, “Your brain is why you can write your stories. All of your

really amazing stories!”. This one is special to me because earlier this year, I wrote a blog post

about what autism means to me, and it involved a beloved story called The Little Prince. I wrote

about how being autistic means cherishing ‘The Little Prince’ within you by cherishing the

unique way you see the world. I stated it before, and I’ll state it again that my autistic brain is the

reason why I’m able to produce the creative content that I produce in my blogs and other writing

projects because of the creative nature that my neurodivergent mind provides me, so I

understand completely when Keedie tells Addie that her autistic brain is the reason why she’s a creative writer because my autistic brain makes me the same way. Finally, the most important

example goes back to chapter 18, when Addie and Keedie talk about masking and how Keedie

has to hide who she is in order to please people, and Addie makes a comment saying how she’s

had to hide who she is too around Jenna and everyone else, but she doesn’t want to hide anymore

especially not when she now has a true friend in Audrey who accepts her for who she is and lets

her feel safe enough to unmask and be her true authentic self. I relate to this, especially because

recently, I’ve been coming to the realization that I mask most of the time myself. I have stim

tools that I take out with me publicly, and I refrain from using my stim tools most of the

time due to fear of them being stolen. Another way that I mask, myself is by pretending to understand what someone is saying to me when I actually don’t due to fear of people thinking that I’m stupid. Another way that I mask, this is by simply not telling people that I’m autistic. This is something that has also been brought up in the book, where Keedie tells Addie that she has not told anyone at university that she’s autistic, and Addie is surprised by this because to Addie Keedie was always bold about expressing her autistic self, so to find out that she hides at

school was something she wasn’t expecting. Not many people in my life know that I’m autistic

simply because I’m afraid that if I tell people who I am, then they won’t believe me and see me

as invalid, especially if I tell them that I’m self-diagnosed. So, these three examples in the novel

validate me as a self-diagnosed autistic woman, and I would like to thank Elle McNicoll for

giving me that spark of empowerment by giving me characters I can relate to and see myself

more as the person I truly am. The seventh and final reason why I love Elle McNicoll’s novel

A Kind of Spark is because of how autism is portrayed as…normal. Just like how blind

people are seen as normal, deaf people are seen as normal, and people in wheelchairs are seen as normal, and people with other mobility disabilities are seen as normal, neurodivergent people are normal too. I don’t need to give an example of how this novel portrays autism as something normal, because many of the quotes and examples I used in this blog post do that for me. Everything from the way Addie’s parents and siblings explain Addie’s behavior, to Addie’s interactions with Audrey, and even interactions with Mr. Allison, everything about autism in the eyes of the people mentioned here, is seen and portrayed as normal, and it should never be seen as anything other than that. Aside from autism being portrayed as the boogeyman, autism is also portrayed in the media as inspiration porn. Every time a person is seen to be nice or friendly with an autistic person, people eat it up like it’s the most beautiful inspiring thing in the world when it shouldn’t be. It should just be treated as something normal because it is. It should be seen as normal for parents to stand up for their autistic child, it should be seen as normal for siblings to protect one another when one of them is autistic, it should be seen as normal for kids and teachers at school to understand what autism is so they can be accepting and inclusive towards those who are autistic because it should be seen as normal to treat someone like a human being. So, I appreciate Elle McNicoll for writing something that normalizes who autistic people are as a

community, and future writers that desire to write neurodivergent novels should take notes from

this as future references.

In conclusion, Elle McNicoll wrote something truly special for me, the autism community, and

the neurodivergent community as a whole. She wrote something truly special for the entire world

as a whole. She wrote something that goes beyond the typical moral lesson of accepting people

who are different from you, she wrote something that teaches people how to accept yourself

when you feel different from the rest of the world, she wrote something that teaches people how

to acknowledge the harsh truths of the past so you can create a better future for yourself

(whether it’d be the harsh realities of how people were treated historically in the past or the harsh realities of realizing that an old friendship was never a real true friendship of acceptance,

but rather a toxic unhealthy friendship of pretending to be what you’re not.), she wrote

something that teaches people how ableism/bullying exists in all forms including professional

environments when it’s done by someone who’s in power, and she wrote something that teaches

people how we’re allowed to be human and that being human doesn’t mean being without flaws,

it means being brutally honest about them. I’m so thrilled to say that her novel will be officially

adapted into a tv series that will be released in the U.K. in 2023! In an article titled, BBC

Children’s, 9 Story adapt Elle McNicoll's book A Kind of Spark for TV, BBC Children’s head of

Commissioning and Acquisitions for 7-12s Sarah Muller gave an exciting confirmation about the

news when she states, “We’re delighted to bring this moving and powerful story to audiences in

the UK. In Addie, we have a character who is relatable, uplifting, and inspiring and we can’t wait to bring her story to life. Our aim is to reflect all of our audience on screen and this story of

difference and acceptance is one that we can’t wait to tell.” Before you watch the series, I

encourage you to please get yourselves a copy of the book on and you will

thoroughly enjoy it as I did. It will teach you how to be a parent to your autistic child, it will

teach you how to be a better sibling to your autistic sibling, it will teach how to be a better

teacher to your autistic student, it will teach you how to be a better friend to your autistic friend,

it will teach you how to be a person to an autistic individual, it will teach you how to love

yourself for who you are as an autistic individual, and it will teach you how to advocate for

change in the face of injustice. Finally, I would like to take this time to personally say thank you

Elle McNicoll, for bringing your voice to the world with your debut novel. I’m beyond proud of

you for the success you’ve made because of this novel. I hope that after you read this, you will

feel stronger and more confident in your ability to impact the world in a positive way by doing what you do. I even hope that as you work on your tv series and future books, you will remember

me and give me a shout out in your future work. Whether it’s in a future sequel to the novel A

Kind of Spark, or in a future neurodivergent novel starring an autistic character, I would truly be

honored to receive a shout out from you. You can even use this blog post as part of the plot

storyline for your sequel to A Kind of Spark, I would not mind at all. Either way, being

acknowledged by you for my work would mean a lot to me and it would encourage me strongly

to keep impacting the world in a positive way like you do. If you would like to reach out to me

personally, my email address is Anyway, thank you so much

again for your debut novel and everything you do. Don’t let anyone take your spark of creativity,

imagination, and activism away from you no matter what. Keep up the amazing work you do

because it matters, and so do you. Finally, thank you for being the magical spark that you are for

the autism/neurodivergent community.

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